Is Racing Heading for a “Big Day” Only Business Model?

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When does thoroughbred racing capture national media attention?  Fundamentally, it is four weekends per year:  Kentucky Derby, Preakness, Belmont and the Breeder’s Cup.  Beyond that, there are some secondary meets and weekends that garner television coverage and some wider interest:  Saratoga, Keeneland, Del Mar, and the key Kentucky Derby prep races.  Though there are precious few times when racing obtains the national spotlight, tens and hundreds of races are run throughout the country on a daily basis, 365 days a year.  Increasingly, tracks are highlighting their significant days, and seeking to capitalize more than ever on the modest national media attention that is directed to the sport.  The Triple Crown races are perhaps the best example of this trend, and NYRA’s decision to fill Belmont Stakes day with other major stake races is the most recent (and perhaps starkest) example.  But, in our minds, the most important question remains to be answered – is this model both sustainable and good for the sport’s long term interests? Continue reading Is Racing Heading for a “Big Day” Only Business Model?

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Want to Run a Meet? The Colonial Downs Saga Continues

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Talks between Colonial Downs and the Virginia Horsemen have broken down just four days before the deadline the set by the Virginia Racing Commission for the parties to reach an agreement.  While the “deadline” may be more of an attempted motivator than a “hell or high- water” cutoff, the two sides continued inability to reach a compromise increases the likelihood that Colonial Downs will be without thorobred racing this summer and fall.   That is unless another group of horsemen form and answer Colonial’s offer.  Continue reading Want to Run a Meet? The Colonial Downs Saga Continues

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The Kentucky Derby Point System: Two Years In, Has It Been Successful?

From the time it was announced, the point system devised by Churchill Downs for determining Kentucky Derby entrants received a significant amount of attention, discussion, and criticism. In its inception, the switch from graded stake earnings to the point system had a few goals:

1. Emphasize the prep races closer to the Derby so that horses “on form” are more likely to gain entry;
2. Eliminate the influence of prep races that were shorter than 1 mile, but nevertheless yielded graded stakes earnings (i.e. the Hutchison Stakes at Gulfstream; the Bay Shore Stakes at Aqueduct);
3. Eliminate the influence of graded stakes races run on turf (i.e. the Palm Beach Stakes at Gulfstream;
4. Eliminate the possibility of a filly qualifying by running in restricted races only;
5. Screw Hawthorne Race Course and the Illinois Derby.

Fundamentally, the purpose of the system was to try to get the 20 best three year old route horses as of the first Saturday in May into the gate at Churchill Downs. But now that we have completed two years of the point system, is the system working?

Continue reading The Kentucky Derby Point System: Two Years In, Has It Been Successful?

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Critical analysis of the business, marketing, legal, and leadership aspects of the Sport of Kings